clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2016 NFL Draft: Position preview -- could the Giants draft a running back?

With five running backs on the roster, the Giants appear set at the position, but things aren't always what they appear.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants currently have five running backs on the roster. With Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa, and the newly signed Bobby Rainey, the Giants' depth chart seems to be full.

But Jennings has struggled with injury throughout his career, and while Darkwa looked promising, he always seemed to be coming off the field with some sort of ding.

Meanwhile Vereen's greatest talent is his ability to catch out of the backfield, which was forgotten for a large stretch of the 2015 season. He is an average runner, particularly between the tackles. Williams, on the other hand, is a powerful runner with deceptive athleticism, but he is not a receiving threat and needs to be behind the quarterback to be able to hit the line of scrimmage at full speed -- a formation the Giants don't use often.

Rainey is the least familiar to Giants fans. He was the primary returner for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year and was generally well regarded as a running back. Rainey, however, did not get many chances behind Doug Martin and Charles Sims, but he has performed well on occasion when he has gotten consistent carries.

None of these players would likely preclude the Giants from drafting a running back if they get great value on a player they see as an upgrade.

Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State) -- The unquestioned top running back in the draft, Elliott does it all. He has size, athleticism -- both solid speed and agility -- reliable hands, and is a ferocious blocker. Despite being "just" a running back, Elliott is probably the premier offensive weapon in this draft.

Derrick Henry (Alabama) -- The 2016 Heisman winner is generally considered the second running back in the draft. Henry's size, speed, and fearsome power are all reminiscent of former Giant Brandon Jacobs. Henry can be a devastating runner, but he needs an offense that runs a power scheme and is willing to give him the bulk of his carries behind center.

Kenneth Dixon (Louisiana Tech) -- Dixon might be the least-flashy running back in the draft, but he is one of the most consistently productive, and most well rounded. He is similar to Ezekiel Elliott in many ways, with a good build for the position, solid athleticism, is a polished blocker and capable receiver. He carried a very high workload at Louisiana Tech, so wear and tear might be a concern.

Alex Collins (Arkansas) -- Collins is a quick, and productive runner. He uses good vision and quick feet to make cuts on interior runs. Collins can run in both zone and power schemes, and isn't afraid to use his thick build to run defenders over in the open field. He isn't fast, but Collins has produced back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Arkansas and scored 32 touchdowns over the last three years.

Devontae Booker (Utah) -- A torn meniscus ended Booker's 2015 season early, and as a result he is something of a forgotten man in running back rankings. However, is a very fun running back to watch. If Henry reminds of Jacobs, then Booker brings Tiki Barber to mind. He doesn't have the kind of explosive speed that NFL teams love to see, but great vision, patience, quickness in the hole, and a determined running style let him pick up yards in chunks. Add solid hands to his running ability, and he was the work-horse of the Utah offense, racking up 3,395 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns over the last two years. Utah uses "Pro Style" concepts in their rushing attack, so Booker should have a relatively painless adjustment to the NFL.

Kenyan Drake (Alabama) -- Alabama's "other" running back, Drake added a speedy counter-punch to Henry's haymakers. A classic scatback, Drake has frenetic feet, making quick cuts easy, and reliable hands out of the backfield, and reliable hands either out of the backfield or the slot. He isn't an every-down running back, but he has a home in the NFL as a change of pace back and returner.

Daniel Lasco (California) -- A hip injury kept Lasco off the national radar in 2015, but healthy he is one of the most athletic running backs in the 2016 draft -- at least of the ones not named "Beckham". Durability concerns might keep him from being an every-down player, but his speed, explosiveness, and quickness all combine to make him a home-run threat.

CJ Prosise (Notre Dame) -- A former slot receiver turned running back, Prosise is still adapting to the position change, but the arrow is pointing up. He looks predictably natural as a receiver, and fluid with the ball in his hands. With only one year as a running back under his belt, he needs to improve in protection and in the finer points of running the football, but his build give him upside as a runner.

Tyler Ervin (San Jose State) -- Ervin is undersized for an NFL running back, but he plays with a bulldog's mentality. He has great balance, an explosive lower body, and combines them to run as though he weighs about 40 pounds more than he does. Teams will look at him has a kick returner first, but if he gets a chance to carry the ball on offense, he won't give up easily.

Keith Marshall (Georgia) -- Marshall is flying way under the radar. A combination of backing up Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb after suffering a torn ACL in 2013 will do that to a prospect. However he has prototypical size at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, and flies with a 4.30 40-yard dash and the footwork to make tacklers miss at the line of scrimmage. If his knee checks out, he could be a sleeper to watch.